Sorry abt my long absence. I flew back to India on the 23rd and am still getting over the jetlag.
Even though I've spent 12 years outside the country, India is still home for me. And yet, this time I return home with mixed feelings. There is, of course, the excitement of meeting family & friends, the wonderful pampering, the 24 hr domestic help, facials, manicures & pedicures for a tenth of what they cost in the US.
Yet, each time I come back, I feel a little more distant from my 'home'. As I walk out of the airplane, I see how dirty the International airport is. I notice the pollution and the noise a little bit more. I find myself carrying Purell hand sanitizer everywhere I go. I can't sit in a non-air conditioned car for more than a few minutes. I fear I might be turning into (shudder) an NRI (Non Resident Indian) snob!
I hate people who leave India and then consider themselves 'above' the desis (locals), those for whom criticizing their country becomes almost a status symbol - "how do you live in all that dirt...uff, I could never go back! Of course, I still love India dearly, but..." I guess that's the sort of love that can only be sustained at a distance.
And yet, I find myself thinking, if not saying these kind of things. And I start wondering - is it so wrong to want to live in a country that's clean, where officials (except, of course, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich) aren't corrupt, where doctors can be trusted to diagnose you fairly and not send you for unneccesary tests just to make some money? Every time I look at the Indian newspapers I stories of organ trafficking, medical malpractice, abuse of women and the like.
I'm feeling terribly guilty as I write this. I feel as though I'm letting down my country, bringing it's ugly side out in the open. After all, all homes have their issues, shouldn't we try to solve them internally and not open them up for scrutiny by the neighbors? Then why am I bad-mouthing my home?
It's in this frame of mind that I start looking around me a little more carefully. I come across an interesting story of how cops played cupid for a young couple. And I thought, though it is in no way pardonable that so many intercast couples are still rejected or worse by their own families in my country, maybe there is a glimmer of hope. A perfect example of the slow changes coming into India is that of the Muslim couple who married their adopted hindu daughter to a Hindu groom.
Suddenly, I feel a little more cheerful. Sure, there is a lot in India that needs to be improved. But if those of us who are young and educated, those of us who are wlling and capable of making a change start leaving our 'home' for greener pastures, then how can we expect India to move in the right direction?
Yes, it is tempting to live in a country where most issues have already been resolved, but wouldn't it be far more fulfilling to help my own country reach that level?